Saturday, 18 December 2010

Chickpeas and spicy merguez salad

The past few weeks have been hectic to say the least.

Still recovering from the copious amount of food (mainly gluten based baked goods), and since I chose a career path based on me eating, a day off is a rarity. Food is work and I’m happy to earn my bread, literally. Food, however, is all consuming and, and so my blog seems to be paying the price…

Its not all fun and games, as a short recap of some of my culinary adventures in the past few weeks reveals.I made another trip up north to Matat for work, always a highlight. This time I was mainly in the kitchen cooking for a photo shoot, and eating it all, which goes without saying. On the way back, and since we simply had to have dessert after a day of roasted, cooked and baked lamb, chicken, bread, casseroles and stews, we stopped in Kfar Yasif and found an ‘off the beaten track’ local patisserie for what was possibly the best halva Baklava I’ve had and exceptional Knafe. Nothing short of corrupt indulgence.

Last week was also our (Adi, Dafi and me) second meeting with the kids at ‘Shaked’ preliminary school in Ra’anana, as part of the year long ‘Garden to plate’ gastronomy workshop. This week’s theme was mother earth and, once we had finished reading a variety of mythological stories about her, and a short working session at the vegetable garden we set up, we prepared miniature plant pots inspired by Noma’s recipe, simplifying it to fromage blanc covered in savoury granola ‘earth’ and radishes from the farmers market.

Some don’t like cheese, others may take a dislike to radishes but then there was the kid that told me he hates radishes with a passion but he ate this one and liked it. If that doesnt make it all worth while I dont know what does. I feel how little by little, we're taking part in something bigger and helping to make difference as small as it may be. It’s the reason I do what I do and this is the place it all comes together.

Food is as a tool, a communicator and a creative outlet. It tastes good and it feels even better.

It’s the season for heavy casseroles, comforting meals that fit in a bowl, can be eaten with a spoon, thirsty for a dribbling poached egg.

This is one I made earlier.

Chickpeas and spicy merguez salad

(serves 2-4)


500gram chickpeas, soaked over night in water, rinsed and strained

3-4 sage leaves

1 garlic clove

6 merguez sausages, cut to bite size pieces

¼ curry powder

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely

2-3 tbs olive oil

¼ cup dried cranberries

coriander leaves, washed

¼ cup hazelnuts, roasted and chopeed coarsely

sea salt, to taste

White peppercorns, to taste, freshly ground

1 lemon, juiced

Place the chickpeas in a large sauce pan with the sage leaves and the the garlic clove. Cover with plenty of water and bring to a boil.

Use a spoon to remove the foam from the top surface, reduce to a low heat and cook until the chickpeas are soft but firm, about 1 hour.

When they are ready, strain and set aside.

Prepare the sausages:

Heat an iron skillet and fry the merguez until they turn a deep colour and covered in burn marks. You don’t need to use any oil since the merguez are oily as it is. Drain on a paper towel to remove excess fat.

Alternatively, these can be oven baked, placed on a baking tray and browned in an oven preheated to 200C, around 5 minutes.

In a dry saucepan, fry the fenugreek seeds and the curry powder until the aroma is released.

Remove from the heat and stir in the olive oil.

To assemble the dish use a large bowl to mix the cooked chickpeas, merguez sausages, coriander leaves, cranberries and roasted hazelnuts.

Season with the spiced olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

Transfer to a plate and serve drizzled with raw tahini, chopped nuts and more coriander seeds.

If you’re feeling up to it, serve with a freshly poached egg on top.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Israel (and Jordan), a mouthful

Kate came for a 10 day visit. This was always going to be an ambitious project, us trying to squeeze a diverse, ever changing, constantly evolving rich foodscape that is made up of dozens of different cuisines, local and from the various Diaspora; Street food, gourmet, cheap and expensive, simple and pretentious, fresh and seasonal, slow and traditional, we had it all.

This was a week of chicken, turkey and lamb shawarma, good hummus and bad, cheap borek, good borek and luxury crab meat borek, brains on toast, kibbeh soup, shakshuka, mujaddara, sweet knafe, mild Malabi and a sour sweet tamarind juice.

The new covered market at Tel Aviv port was the place we had a fluffy kebab and an inspiring gelato, at Levinsky spice market we collected spices, from dried Persian lemons to white Yemenite coffee, a mediocre borek and an unforgettable pomegranate orange juice. Lastly, we made a pitstop at HaCarmel market for some succulent Medjool dates.

Ali Karawan’s mind blowing hummus in Jaffa was a Friday breakfast appetizer, but then we simply had to stop at the doctor for a spicy shakshuka, a taste of his shawarma and a cuscus (Dr. Shakshuka has a Phd in shakshuka, in case you wondered).

A visit to Jerusalem's Mahne Yehuda market began with coffee and a visit to 'Marzipan' patisserie for their gooey dripping Rogelach and boreks before we headed to Azura for a taste of Kibbeh soup and okra cooked in tomato sauce. We had no time to waste and so we headed to the old city, for more food and some spirituality at the wailing wall and the church of the sepulchre.
It was late afternoon, and we had already sampled the local Knafe (fried kadaifi with sweet sheep's milk cheese, rose sugar syrup and pistachio) when the search for the best shawarama began. We didnt have an address as such, or a name for that matter, but we knew what we were after. Eventually we made it to a fluorescent lit dining hall, and were greeted by a large shawarma and several men with a smile that says: " I know you made quite a way to get this far and its well worth it". We were sat down and were served some salads, pita bread and two heaped plates of freshly carved shawarma. It was thanksgiving in the US and the turkey meat cooked in sheep fat was appropriate for the occasion. And it was wonderful too. Dinner was a disaster so I wont go into it. Suffice to say it didnt change Kate's mind regarding eggplants or tahini, both of which were badly made and expensively charged.
As part of the' once in a lifetime' experience we made plans to visit Petra. Although Jordan is the closest thing to abroad from Israel, this was to be my first time. A taxi ride, flight, border pass, and more taxi ride later we were in Wadi Mussa, ready to see the wonder. It may have been the end of November but you couldn't tell from the heat wave. We saw the wonder and even saved our packed lunch to have in it's presence. Several hours later, after marvelling at the landscape and trying to avoid the donkey rides that kept appearing in front of us we had dinner at a restaurant specializing in typical Jordanian cuisine.
Despite a few glitches like a random apple mayo salad, we were served local dishes such as stuffed zucchini and a fragrant lamb Maqluba, fresh yogurt, Hummus, bitter olives and beet salad. However, we both agreed that apart for the cold beer and free nuts at the Movenpick hotel lobby it was the 1 Dinari falafel and fried shawarma wrap that did it for us.

As a fitting finale to our Jordanian adventure, our taxi driver shared with us a freshly baked bread he picked up in a bakery on his trip back, still warm and humid from the taboon.
Dipped in fromage blanc and a bottle of beer it made for dinner, Biblical style.
There were many more dishes and meals, from 'North Abraxes', to 'Shila' and a hedonistic meal at the 'Basta', a Russian breakfast at 'Cafe Mersand' and a sabich finale at Tchernichovsky.
Now that I have caught on my sleep and the workload and had some time to ingest the week and digest the copious amount of foods I feel I must mention some of the catastrophes, mishaps and general cloud of strange coincidences that came flying our way from all directions and at all times, from dentists and mormons, to a fringe, a spilled jar of tahini in a suitcase, lost chargers, unstable bikes to one very bad film, to name but a few (all of which added to the experience and the taste of the food). I'd do it all over again kate.
Till the next time, however, there is no rest for the wicked and I have landed directly in the hands of Hanukah (thats code for fried latkes and more fried doughnuts).
Must. carry. on.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

A year later...

It is the 1-year anniversary since I graduated and returned home from Italy. I did a bit of soul searching this week (though I do that pretty much on a regular basis), looking back for a recount of the past year, my actions, my gains and the future. Could it be a coincidence that on this same week I found myself, on 2 separate occasions, standing in front of students, giving back and sharing my knowledge, sowing seeds of change, opening a door, shaking foundations?

I see the rocks obstructing my path, as stepping-stones and higher jumping boards that will take me leaps forward.

At the end of an exciting, nerve wrecking, stressful, angst-ridden week along came Friday and made it all better and the rest of the weekdays seem worth the pain, or rather growing pains.

Turns out that fear and anxiety are to be met with a force and not cowardness. luckily I did and it was and I’m better for it and thus, so is the universe.

Nothing like a group of eager students, curious to taste new flavours, hear things they never knew existed to fill one with a dose of always needed optimism.

I could hear the sound of communication; information passing from my inner world and landing on absorbent ears, and it felt like giving. This must have been the sound of me following my vocation and doing the one thing I can: communicating through food.

Everything happens for a reason. At what point is it too coincidental to be a coincidence?

Sunday, 7 November 2010

pomegranate Cranachan

I was recently introduced to the Scottish Cranachan. I stumbled upon it right around the same time I spent a family vacation at the Scott’s hotel in Tiberias. I felt I could not and should not ignore the evidently recurring theme.

Tiberias is a small city overlooking the sea of Galilee, and really that is its main feature. That and the Scott’s Hotel, perfectly designed so that there is no need to venture outside to the dreary surrounding, while enjoying a panoramic view, though in the case you do, you can get it in small doses, in the form of a tour and a guide.

Between the pool, the spa and the dining room, a room with a view and a whiskey bar, it was the closet to a vacation in Scotland without the need for a passport.

Cranachan, as I found out, is a Scottish dessert served during the harvest season, mainly summer and fall. It consists of the best in Scottish produce: dairy, oats, berries, honey and single malt whiskey. Scotland is still on my ‘go to’ places, but I have never been drawn to the cuisine with stories on deep fried everything and stuffed innards. I was more then pleasantly surprises to discover cranachan and how it spoke in a dialect I could relate to and understand.

This is no Scotland and so I took the original recipe and modified it using local and seasonal ingredients to a cranachan with a Hebrew accent. Similar to the Japanese version of tahini, it is always a pleasant surprise to find that some words mean the same thing no matter the language. This is one of those dishes.

pomegranate Cranachan

(serves 6)

Recipe heavily adapted from here


170g coarsely grated dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids)

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, coarsely chopped

1tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not the instant kind)

1 3/4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup sour cream

1/3 cup Arrack (or single malt whiskey)

3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1 pomegranate, seeded.

Preheat oven to 175°C.

Mix chocolate, hazelnuts, cinnamon and brown sugar in medium bowl.

Spread oats out on rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes, until toasted and golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Stir hot oats into chocolate mixture. The hot oats will partially melt chocolate.

Set-aside until chocolate firms, at least 2 hours. This can be made 1 day ahead, covered and chilled.

Beat whipping cream until it reaches the stiff peaks stage.

Gently fold the sour cream, and Arrack into the whipped cream.

Fold the pomegranate molasses and gently fold to create red swirls in the whiteness of the cream.

Either in individual bowls or one large communal bowl layer 3/4 cup cream mixture and 3/4 cup oat mixture and repeat layering.

Top with the cream mixture and sprinkle with oat mixture and pomegranate seeds.

Can be served at once or prepared in advance and chilled for a few hours.

If you cant get hold of pomegranates or pomegranate molasses, you can substitute it with any honey and seasonal or preserved fruit you have.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Autumn day out

Last week, on a spur of the moment I joined Anna, an Italian journalist in her research for material on a story for Italian TV about the local farmers market.

With Terra Madre taking place in Turin these days the story of various local farmers market, nurturing a complicated land with love and respect, we had less then a day and an impossible schedule.

From Tel Aviv in central Israel Anna, the photographer and myself headed south to a local olive oil producer. We had a chat, took a walk and snacked on an impromptu picnic on the back of his pick up truck, essentially bread, olive oil and tapanade.

By the time we left for the dairy farm, in the North of Israel, the sun had begun to set and the highways clogged with the end-of-week traffic. We arrived at the farm hungry, tired and agitated and it was already dark. The dairy was ready to close for the day, the cattle was back in the farm after a day's grazing, the herd dogs were smeared on the floor following a long day of herding and the last cheese was placed in the cold room, to begin its aging process.

Barkanit is a small family run dairy farm founded over 30 years ago. They have local varieties of goats and sheep that roam the local landscape during the day, feeding only on grass with no other additives, antibiotics or the likes.

The cheeses are all produced by hand using traditional methods, and according to Avinoam it is only women that make the cheese, as they have the right 'touch'. The range of cheese produced ranges from soft, semi soft, camembert style and blue cheese as well as hard aged cheese, all made naturally, by hand and with much love and care.

We roamed the land, met new people and generally had a welcome change of scenery, as from the back seat of the car endless fields replaced the grey urban landscape.
I met the salt of the earth.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Swedish Apple Cake

I’ve had this recipe filed in the “must bake’ bookmark ever and today was the day I finally baked it.

Halloween is coming up and despite my attempts to do something with a pumpkin its simly not in my blood, probably because it is a non existent holiday on this part of the world and , well, the heat waves are confusing any notion of fall. If it weren’t for the apples, pumpkins and citrus fruit that began appearing in the market, I’d be lost.

I don’t recall what it was about this cake that caught my eye. I think it was it its pure simplicity and my affection for anything Nordic. You see, its Swedish, and Sweden can get quite cold. Quick and easy to bake it is not a flashy cake pregnant with failed promises, but is instead succulent and moist, naïve and pure in its plainness. And it filled my house with the warm air of a home.

It is one of those cakes that become a staple, a comfort, and I cant stop thinking about a slice sitting cosily inside a bowl of warm custard.

Swedish apple cake

This recipe is adapted from Allegra McEvedy’s Swedish apple that appeared here.

3 eggs

¾ cup unrefined cane sugar

2 cups flour

1½tsp baking powder

200g Sour cream

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into bite-sized chunks

¼ tsp cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven to 175ºC.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until it is thick and pale.

Sift in the flour and baking powder, folding t gently until it is all combined.

Fold the sour cream into the mixture.

Fold the cinnamon and diced apples into the mix until it is all combined.

You can brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle liberally with golden granulated sugar and some cinnamon (I added cinnamon sugar I bought on my last trip to the Netherlands).

Grease a 20cm cake tin with a knob of butter, then pour the batter in.

Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, then take it out and leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Run a knife around the edge and turn out on to a plate, then flip again so the apples are on top.

Serve hot or at room temperature, as is or with a dollop of crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream.

For variations, try adding freshly ground mace, cardamon, chunks of candied ginger or apricot, raisin or chopped walnuts to the mixture for your personal signature apple cake.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Apple walnut goats cheese loaf

This is the first time since I started this blog, that I haven’t updated it for this long. Its not for the lack of want, more like having to accept there are only 24 hours in a day and just so much I can do, despite being über- efficient.

I’ve been busy working food from different angles, but not before I recovered from the previous post, which took longer then anticipated.

The fall is here, despite it being warmer now then a hot day in August, and apples, Jerusalem artichokes and other fall vegetables are finally starting to appear in the markets in full glory.

it’s also the olive picking season.

I took a day trip to an olive grove that belongs to one of the finest olive oil producers in the land days before the olive harvest begins. Set by the Sea of Galilee, the fattoria grows and produces 7 different olive varieties from across the Mediterranean such as Suri, Barnea, Coratina, koroneiki, picholine, arbequina, leccino and piqual.

In order for an olive tree to produce it must cross-pollinate with a different variety so the grove is mixed, alternating every few rows.

I picked a handful of each variety and took them home with me. I made a cut in the flesh of each olive and set in a bowl of water for a week, changing the water daily. This is done to extract the bitterness from the olives, now resting in a sterilized jar by the window, infused with water, salt, herbs and spices. Now comes the waiting part. So I wait.

In the meantime, apples are calling me and whilst I do love me an apple cake, I decided to try as a savoury one. Paired with walnuts and a semi hard goats cheese, the result was part cake, part bread. I'll call it a loaf. It gives off the aroma of a comforting apple cake, of autumn, of home, but the bite is surprising in its maturity and the flavour isn’t masked by sweetness. It can be served as a side dish, for a picnic a brunch, or as part of a light lunch.

Apple walnut goats cheese loaf

Adapted from a recipe in the NYTimes

Makes 1 loaf


1 cup AP flour, sifted

¾ cup whole wheat flour, sifted

2 Tsp baking powder

1 Tsp salt

½ Tsp freshly ground peppercorns

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 eggs

1/3 cup goats milk yogurt

1 granny smith apple, cored, peeled and diced

50 gr semi hard goats cheese (like Bouche, for example), crumbled

Handful of walnuts, roasted and coarsely chopped

Atlantic sea salt

Needles from a Rosemary twigs

Preheat the oven to 175ºC and use olive oil to oil a loaf pan.

In a large bowl combine flours, baking powder, salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl lightly whisk the eggs, then add the yogurt and olive oil and whisk to combine.

Fold the liquids into the flour mixture and mix until it all comes together. The dough is pretty dry and thick, but don’t worry.

Fold the diced apple, crumbled goats cheese and walnuts into the dough and transfer to the loaf pan.

Drizzle some olive oil and scatter the rosemary needles and the sea salt above.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the loaf has turned golden and a knife inserted in the centre comes out dry.

Allow to cool for several minutes before realising the loaf from the pan, and leave on a rack to cool completely.

Use a serrated knife to slice the loaf and serve with a dollop of fresh sour cream.

The loaf can be kept frozen, tightly wrapped in foil.

Note: If you’re not a fan of goats milk, you can substitute the cheese and yogurt with sheep’s milk. for other variation trv substituting the apple and walnuts with other seasonal fruit, nuts and seeds, different herbs, or salumi of your choice.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Seasonal greetings

After months of careful planning, collecting menus, locating the right producers, organic growers and artisanal bakers, hiring furniture, ordering flowers and choosing a selection of locally grown and produced wines I am now, happy and satisfied, recollecting my thoughts and recharging my batteries.
It was my mother's 70th Birthday and we thought this feat was worthy of a get together for the closest circle of family, friends and colleagues.
I decided to take upon myself the role of the catering service and what started out as a light buffet with a cheese platter and bread, a fruit basket and fine wine ended up as a lavish brunch table covered with an explosive and colorful cornucopia; the best in local and seasonal produce.
The Cheese and salumi platters were sourced from a nearby self sustained farm and pieces of schmaltz herring were laid out on a plate, interlaced with red onion slices and crushed black peppercorns. Organic goat's milk butter and a 2Kg specially made feta cheese complimented the selection of breads from a nearby artisanal bakery. Fluorescent carrot cubes lit a French lentil salad, and lima beans were lightly fried in olive oil, seasoned with fresh rosemary, oregano and thyme, finished off with roughly diced succulent Medjool dates.
Brunch wouldn't be complete without Kedgeree, a traditional British rice breakfast dish from colonial India with a poached smoked Mackerel, hard boiled egg, fresh ginger and parsley, served with sheep's milk yogurt dotted with sumac.
The Freekeh salad combined smoked green wheat kernels with sauteed leeks, toasted walnuts, and brown butter, topped with aged Tzfatit cheese, a salty, tangy white cheese originating in Tzfat, a city in Northern Israel.
I also baked several Savory cakes speckled with dates, nuts, aged sheep's cheese and herbs grown on my window sill.
For Dessert my mother baked traditional Hungarian cakes and in addition to a queen sized bowl of Scottish Cranachan I had also sourced the finest Rugelach in the whole of the land from a pastry shop famous for its succulent and juicy little pastries. Exploding with melting chocolate, these miniature pastries burst of goo, dripping to the floor leaving a trail of comfort. I found myself enjoying them above the kitchen sink.
This was an architectural construct combined with a military operation and it all came together as I had envisioned, choreographed and executed meticulously and precisely, like the satisfying 'click' of a car door slammed shut.
Coincidentally the event took place during the thanksgiving day for the fruit harvest and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate 70 years of a life well lived with family & friends surrounded by the finest produce from the land of plenty.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sour cream fig coffee cake

September is not an easy month. After a long, hard and humid summer it would only make sense to take this time to regenerate, recuperate, gather strength and the last of the summer fruit in preparation for a yearned winter.

I am, however, trying not to get my hopes high considering last year I turned the heating once and once only.

Instead, September is host to no less then 4 different holidays, full of meaning and symbolism, family orientated (a challenge in itself) and revolve around food, or the lack of.

So far, its 1 down and 3 to go. The New Year celebrations are finally over and Yom Kippur is in store for the nether part of the week. Traditionally this is a day for internal contemplation, fasting and solitude. No cars, no shops, no restaurants, no TV. Nothing. It’s wonderful. Everything is quiet. Instead of cars the roads are filled with pedestrians and bicycles. Car engines hibernate for the day making way for street cats to take over the tarmac territory and forgotten urban aromas to get noticed in the air.

Riding a bicycle is traditional, watching movies back to back and picking up unfinished books.

With nowhere to go and hours at home, contemplating I clean my slate for the coming year in the kitchen.

Not traditional and perhaps controversial, but I contemplate around food.

On second thought a day with no computers, work and other distractions could do me good. A day of no food; no cooking, no eating, no writing and no thinking of food could be good. Equipped with good books, a dead serious British drama and the company of good friends, I look forward to this fast and welcoming a new year with a clean slate.

With the last of the figs for this season nothing like a sour cream fig coffee cake. For starting over with a new slate.

Sour cream fig coffee cake

Makes 1 loaf


4 ripe figs, washed and diced + 1 fig, sliced

¾ cup all purpose flour

¼ cup chestnut flour (alternatively, you can use 1 cup AP flour)

¼ Tsp baking powder

¼ Tsp baking soda

¼ Tsp fine sea salt

1/3 cup sour cream

1/8 Tsp almond extract

90gr unsalted butter, room temperature

¾ cup cane sugar

1 egg

1/8 Tsp cinnamon

Fresh thyme leaves (optional)

Preheat the oven to 175C

In a large bowl sift together the flours, baking powder and the baking soda. Add the sea salt.

In a separate, small bowl mix together the sour cream with the almond extract and the diced figs.

In another bowl beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Beat in egg until combined, add the cinnamon and alternating between them, add the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture until just combined.

Transfer the batter to loaf pan, smoothing the top.

arrange the fig slices on top and sprinkle with a little cinnamon.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean and top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then invert onto rack.

Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and serve.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Saturday, 4 September 2010

A Whole-wheat seasonal fruit and blue cheese focaccia for a New Year

This week are the Jewish New Year celebrations, that’s code for “everyone is busy cooking and buying gifts". Its the closest we get to a Christmas, and big on the night are east European Diaspora specialties such as the gefilte fish, as well as symbolic foods like honey (wishes for a sweet year), pomegranate (plenty like the grains in a pomegranate) and the head of an animal (as opposed to the ‘tail’).

I already have gifts, (local and seasonal calendars I designed with Inbal , together we are NANA studio), so in keeping with the spirit I am posting a whole-wheat seasonal fruit and blue cheese focaccia that, I feel, embodies my wishes for the coming year combining sweet, sour, and savoury into a harmonious one, crunchy yet moist, with a wholesome and satisfying carb topped with a sharp, ripe Gorgonzola dolce. What more can one want?

Like this focaccia, may this be a year of plenty.

Whole-wheat seasonal fruit and blue cheese focaccia

(makes 1 focaccia)


1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp instant dry yeast or little less then 20 gr fresh yeast

1 tsp fine sea salt

1 ¼ cups luke warm water

¼ cup fine olive oil +3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

100 gr Gorgonzola dolce cheese, or any other blue cheese you prefer

Seasonal fruit (such as figs, grapes, mangos, plums, apricots), washed and sliced.

2-3 Tbs sliced slivered almonds

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly crushed peppercorns, to taste

Rosemary sprigs, separated to leaves

2-3 tbs honey

In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast and salt.

Make a well in the centre and add the water and olive oil.

Stir to make a soft dough, adding more water as needed and knead for 8-10 minutes on a lightly floured work surface until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and transfer to an oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, and cover with plastic wrap.

Let stand in a warm place about 1½ hours, until doubled.

Roll the dough out to a rectangle of about 25 × 40cm.

Brush 1½ tbsp of the extra virgin olive oil over half of the dough. Brush water around the edges of the other half and fold the dough in half, to make a rectangle of about 25 × 20cm.

Transfer to a large baking sheet and press the dough with your knuckles to dimple the surface.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let stand for about 30–40 minutes, until puffy.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Drizzle the remaining 1½ tbsp olive oil over the dough, letting it pool in the dimpled dough.

Scatter the fruit slices and crumble the cheese over the focaccia.

Sprinkle the almond slices and season with the salt and pepper.

Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until risen and golden.

Remove the focaccia from the oven, scatter the rosemary sprigs and drizzle the honey.

Slide onto a rack to cool and serve at room temperature